McCain on Fat Kids: "One of the Most Alarming Statistics"
If you watched last night's final US Presidential Debate, you probably noticed that Senator John McCain was the first of the two candidates to call out fat publicly in some fashion. Here's a complete transcript. He said:
The rise of obesity amongst young Americans is one of the most alarming statistics that there is. We should have physical fitness programs and nutrition programs in schools. Every parent should know what's going on there.
Yeah, not so much, McCain. From a Junkfood Science post back in May:
The latest statistics on childhood overweight from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They show that since the childhood growth charts were redesigned nearly a decade ago, there have been no statistically significant change in the percentages of young people at or above the 95th percentile (labeled as “overweight” and some are now calling “obese”).
Redesigning charts'll do that for ya!
McCain also called for "rewarding" people who joined wellness programs and health clubs. Wellness, as regular readers know, is just the new codeword for "not fat." This is a horrible, horrible idea.
To be totally fair, though, "prevention" of fat is covered explicitly in Senator Barack Obama's health care plan:
The nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism.
An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely.
On fat kids, the Obama-Biden plan says:
Childhood obesity is nearly epidemic, particularly among minority populations, and school systems can play an important role in tackling this issue.
Nearly epidemic is notable here; there's a difference. But it's still wrong. It references this 5-year-old NIH piece, geared towards "preventing" fat versus actually backing it up with facts. (In addition, the NIH is the organization that redefined the BMI ten years ago; disappointing because they do some good work.)
As JFS has posted repeatedly, back in 2004, in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the CDC had reported that there had been no significant increases in the numbers of U.S. adults or children considered “overweight” or “obese” from 1999-2000 through 2001-2002.
Sorry, Barack. While I give you points for not calling it an epidemic outright, and not namechecking it in order to scare the crap out of people, the argument is still a house of cards.
(Cross-posted to Open Salon.)